The rejuvenated Action Comics begins its second storyline, kicking off from events in the previous arc. As Superman fought Doomsday, Clark Kent showed up… a second Clark Kent, one without superpowers. He’s the star of this issue, investigating possibly dodgy company Geneticron.
The story starts in media res, with Clark fleeing for his life from Geneticron corporate goons who don’t like his investigation – being a Daily Planet reporter, his ‘investigation’ consists of snooping around private property. Flashbacks show us Clark’s day, which began with a Lex Luthor-staged press conference introducing the believed-dead reporter to the world which goes less than smoothly. It continued with him being forced to take a lie detector test by new Planet proprietor Luthor, only to find the researcher wasn’t who he seemed to be. And now he’s fighting for his life, wondering why Superman, whom he knows has been keeping an eye on him, isn’t helping…
Oh, this is fun. When the second Clark first appeared I assumed he was an imposter, but writer Dan Jurgen has him narrate the story, showing that even if he’s not who he says he is, he certainly believes it. The mystery deepens in fine style throughout the issue, teasing us that some version of Superman made this Clark hide away when he was looking into Geneticron previously. And who’s that bearded person following Clark around? We get a Perry White who’s not the fairweather friend of the Truth storyline, a Jimmy Olsen who has reporting chops and a Clark who’s not afraid to get down and dirty.
Patrick Zircher draws the heck out of it all, making this private life of Clark Kent story as enticing for the eye as any amount of superhero action – heck, how many artists can draw a decent staircase? How many would even try?
The only thing the brilliant Zircher can’t make look good is the current Superman costume – no one can, it’s irredeemable.
It doesn’t spoil another fine issue of Action Comics fortnightly, though – Zircher and Jurgens are a great core creative team, and they’re well supported by Arif Prianto on colours and Rob Leigh on letters. I’ve mentioned elsewhere that Leigh is especially good at title designs, and it’s a skill he demonstrates again here with some tweaking of the classic Superman logo to match the angle of the splash page artwork.
Plus, he gives us a telescopic comma! That may be a first. And I love the use of the font for ‘Clark Kent’, Art Deco being a highly appropriate go-to for evoking Metropolis folk.
There’s more good work on the covers, the regular being by artist Clay Mann and Tomeu Morey, with unspecified Jurgens input – layout, maybe? – while the variant is another attractive creation by illustrator Gary Frank with colourist Brad Anderson.
Where this will all end, I don’t know. We’ve seen the ‘Clark meets Superman’ bit many times, but this version feels different, fresh. Check out Action Comics and see what I mean.